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Fact Sheet: Chicago Summit - Strengthening NATO's Partnerships

May 21, 2012

At the Chicago Summit, President Obama and the 27 leaders of the other Allied nations acted to further strengthen and deepen NATO's ties with partner nations. Enhancing NATO's global network of partnerships is a top priority for the United States and NATO, and leaders made important progress on this front. In addition, NATO's meeting with four partner nations aspiring to NATO membership sent the important signal that NATO's door remains open to new members. With the presence of a large number of NATO's valued partners, the Chicago Summit was the biggest in NATO's 63-year history. The United States strongly supports NATO's cooperation with partners as a means to more effectively share burdens and act worldwide to accomplish our common security goals. Following three important Chicago Summit meetings with Partners, the Alliance is poised to strengthen its cooperation with other members of the international community on common security challenges, and to further define its role as a hub for security around the world.

Chicago Partnership Meeting: In an unprecedented gathering at a NATO Summit, President Obama and his Allied counterparts met with leaders of 13 of our non-Allied partners making significant financial, operational, and political contributions to NATO operations. These nations were Australia, Austria, Finland, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, New Zealand, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates. At this meeting, the United States and NATO recognized the impressive contributions and sacrifices these partners have made – and are making – in NATO-led operations worldwide. From Kosovo to Afghanistan to our recent success in Libya, the Alliance's work alongside partners in pursuit of mutual goals has strengthened our common security. These 13 nations have exemplified this cooperative spirit. Leaders at this meeting also drew on lessons from previous joint efforts to explore how NATO can further advance interoperability and cooperation with partners. Deepened partnerships allow NATO to extend its reach and better share burdens, in a manner beneficial to Allies and partners alike.

Meeting with Partners Aspiring to NATO Membership: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Chicago with NATO counterparts and Alliance membership aspirants – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Georgia – to underscore NATO's commitment to keeping an open door to future members. The four aspirant nations – each of which serves alongside NATO in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan – continue to work closely with Allies to meet NATO's criteria for entering the Alliance. NATO recognizes these nations' reform efforts and will continue to stand beside them as they move along this path. The United States is proud of NATO's track record of encouraging and incentivizing democratization and stability through its open door to membership, and we look forward to working with aspirants as they progress toward joining the Alliance.

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Meeting: In NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan – NATO's highest priority operation – 22 partners stand strong alongside all 28 Allies. These critical partners are providing troops, trainers, and resources in our mission to ensure that al Qaeda can never return and again use Afghanistan as a haven for terrorism. In a strong demonstration of the truly global nature of this effort, representatives from Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan -- important regional stakeholders -- joined the meeting in Chicago with Afghanistan and the 50 nations contributing to ISAF. Finally, in recognition of the critical role that they play in terms of financial and civilian contributions to the Afghanistan effort, Japan, the United Nations and the European Union also took part in this meeting. This broad range of nations and organizations all play a critical role in pursuing our common goals with respect to Afghanistan, and we charted important progress in Chicago toward the transition to full Afghan security responsibility by the end of 2014 and an enduring partnership with Afghanistan to last beyond.

NATO's Commitment to the Middle East and North Africa: In the course of Summit meetings President Obama and his Allied counterparts affirmed NATO's willingness to strengthen existing partnerships with countries in the Middle East and North Africa through political dialogue and practical cooperation. NATO supports the aspirations of the people of the region for political and economic reform. The Alliance has longstanding partnerships with nations across the Middle East and North Africa and in Chicago, NATO underscored its willingness and ability to fulfill requests to deepen and strengthen these ties, particularly in the area of democratic security sector reform and capacity-building, as this region continues to evolve.

Barack Obama, Fact Sheet: Chicago Summit - Strengthening NATO's Partnerships Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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